Colombin & Figlio S.p.A. laboratory

With Resolution no. 605 dated April 13, 2016, the Friuli Venezia Giulia DG for Productive Activities assigned the Colombin & Figlio S.p.A. laboratory the recognition of “highly qualified structure in the field of quality control for the mechanical and organoleptic part of the use of corks”.
The declaration is the confirmation of the fundamental value that the laboratory plays within the Colombin production cycle.

Parameters for evaluation:

  • Technical/scientific qualification of the staff
  • Organization and supply of equipment
  • Specialization for which qualification is requested
  • Patents obtained and possible industrial applications
  • Collaboration with other research organizations
  • Publications

Analyses

Colombin commits itself in the frame of its Quality System by carrying out every six months analyses related to the absence of specific migration on finished technical corks, performed by an external laboratory.

Analyses

Analyses carried out every year:

  • organoleptic, physical, and gaschromatographic tests on acquired materials
  • pre-shipment material analysis
  • for conformity of closures to specifications before shipping
  • bottle interior profile for product advice
  • on client request
  • performance inspections on materials shipped to company branches
  • on natural corks batches

 Laboratories

Surface area of the laboratories: ca. 500 square metres; 400 for the laboratories, 100 for service and storage areas.

 

Equipment

Measuring capability comprises some 700 instruments, including both manually-controlled as well as robot-controlled machines for precision measuring.

  • for determining free, combined, and total SO2 content and fixed volatile acidity in wine
  • for physical analysis of the corks
  • for measuring the interior bottle profile
  • for determining elasticity of closures
  • for testing elasticity and resistance of technical corks
  • for testing the liquid- and gas-sealing capacity of the closures
  • for testing required application force for closure insertion and removal
  • gaschromatographs with mass measuring for determining organoleptically-active molecules in cork and in wine
  • UV/VIS spectrophotometers to determine chromatic variations

 

Exclusive technologies and processes available to clients

Centrifugation

Colombin remains the only company in the world capable of creating centrifuge-distributed granular units that exhibit an unequalled consistency of specified weight between one cork and the next (Dev.St. less than 6Kg/m3) and a consistent elasticity across the diameter. The process makes it possible to produce agglomerated and micro-agglomerated corks with outstanding technical properties without recourse to expansion additives, using only highly-purified cork granules irreversibly bonded together by elastomers that meet international regulatory specifications for use on products that are in contact with foodstuffs.

The unique advantages of centrifugation:

  • Binder’s percentage always less than 25% (w/w);
  • use of the entire natural elasticity of cork;
  • no use of chemical blowing agents;
  • limited oxygen permeability;
  • exceptional pressure seal (over 7 bars).

Presteril washing

Colombin introduced Presteril washing in 1994, in order to obtain sterilised corks but with no oxidising agent residual taint; this prevents premature ageing in wines and ensures that the cork remains completely sound, even from a physical point of view.
Oxidiser residue in the cork is the result not only of an incorrect use in the washing process with hydrogen peroxide but also of the reaction of the fatty acids in the cork with hydrogen peroxide. The essence of the Presteril washing is precisely the anticipation of this stereo-chemical reaction.

ACT

  • Absorption
  • Conditioning
  • Thermoflux

ACT is TCA reversed, to underscore, right from its title, the purpose of this process, which is to reverse the mistaken idea that cork “smells corked.” ACT means to act, to intervene. In order to achieve an 85% extraction level in natural corks and 100% in 1+1 cork stoppers, water is absorbed from the cork (A = Absorption), conditioned (= C) to obtain identical levels of humidity (> 22%) inside the entire cork, and finally quickly extracted through application of thermal energy (= T) in the form of a burst of hot air. This process was patented in 2009 (WO/2010/119462 A1).

Vaporization

Production process that takes place inside 2 AISI 316 stainless steel presses in order to extract the TCA from the corks and discs using food grade steam from 3 to 7 bars.

Colombin obtains evident benefits using vaporization:

  • TCA extraction is more effective compared to the normal boiling process
  • each treatment takes less time with a subsequent saving in resources (water and energy)
  • the number of corks treated in each cycle is greater compared to boiling
  • the dirt and dust usually present in the pores are eliminated

Weighing selectors

In order to monitor and to reduce to a minimum any densimetric variations in both mono-piece and multi-piece corks, we installed two weighing-selectors that weigh every cork individually. The procedure allows us to ensure uniform functionality and physical characteristics of these two products, achieving much higher-performing corks. All of the rejected corks, whether heavier or lighter, are ground up and converted to thermal energy, which is then used for heating the various ovens our company utilises.

Classification

The corks are graded on the basis of aesthetics, through the use of automatic optoelectronic readers that recognise both the quantity as well as the size of the transverse or vertical pores, known as lenticular channels, on the cork surface.
Azevedos is the innovative machine used by Colombin for optoelectronic selection of all types of corks. Equipped with acquisition systems and latest generation matrix image processing with HD camera and laser, and control software, it captures any defect that may be present in the cork, including critical ones such as yellow and mineral stains, wood, cracks and chipped edge.

Laser stamping machine

The Laser Q-4000 stamping machine allows any cork to be customized, even if there are irregularities on the surface or in the chamfer areas; digital, high resolution stamping prints black and white and all greyscales with excellent saturation of black and without using ink.

Climate chambers

The 5 climate chambers are entirely made out of insulating panels in polyurethane foam, chiller type, with an insulating thickness of 10 cm and entirely topped in AISI 316 stainless steel, according to food safety requirements. They allow a flexible adaptation to production due to their modular characteristic and a reduction in energy consumption thanks to the particular thermal insulation. Moreover, they have a system that is perfectly controlled by an internally developed PLC and they eliminate the condensation inside the chamber at the end of the cycle.

C3 process

C3 = Colombin Coated Corks

Colombin Coated Corks: The cork stopper is coated with a water-based solution (without solvents), which creates a protective net over the cork after being dried under hot air. All of its components are authorised for contact with foodstuffs (in compliance with FDA and EU regulations).